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Organizations in control: being proactive means being trustworthy : examining the combination of crisis timing, pre-crisis reputation and crisis type on customers' judgement of an organization

Laar, E. van (2015) Organizations in control: being proactive means being trustworthy : examining the combination of crisis timing, pre-crisis reputation and crisis type on customers' judgement of an organization.

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Abstract:AIM. In most organizational crisis situations, organizations have to decide whether or not to disclose the crisis. More specifically, they have to decide when to communicate in order to minimize the harm to the organization’s reputation. When an organization steals thunder, it breaks the news about its own crisis before a third party discloses it. The primary goal of this study was to determine the impact of this proactive crisis timing strategy on how an organization in crisis is judged by the customers in terms of ability, benevolence, integrity, forgiveness, and purchase intention compared with the reactive crisis timing strategy. To extend the research, the impact of pre-crisis reputation and crisis type on the dependent measures were taken into consideration as well. As a consequence, the research examined the combined effect of crisis timing with pre-crisis reputation and crisis type. METHOD. Consequently, it resulted in a 2 (crisis timing: stealing thunder or thunder) x 2 (pre-crisis reputation: positive or negative) x 2 (crisis type: product or moral) between-subject design. In total 321 respondents were assigned to one of the eight conditions. The data were collected by using an online questionnaire. The respondents were exposed to a hypothetical crisis message and afterwards they had to indicate their attitude and behavioural intention towards the organization. RESULTS. The results confirmed a higher main outcome for stealing thunder and a positive pre-crisis reputation on all the dependent measures in comparison with thunder and a negative pre-crisis reputation. Besides, results demonstrated a significant difference between the product and moral crisis type. A product crisis showed a significant higher value for integrity in comparison with the moral crisis. Although the moral crisis showed significantly higher values for ability and purchase intention than the product crisis. Further, there were significant interaction effects found for crisis timing with pre-crisis reputation and crisis type. Stealing thunder together with a positive pre-crisis reputation resulted in more positive outcomes for integrity, forgiveness and purchase intention. The outcomes for benevolence and purchase intention were significantly higher for stealing thunder together with a product crisis type. RESEARCH CONTRIBUTION. This study gave valuable insight in the direct effects of crisis timing, precrisis reputation and crisis type. Moreover, the contingency effects of proactive crisis timing were taken into consideration. The combination of variables has not been examined before, thereby the research created a valuable contribution to crisis communication literature. CONCLUSION. The current research supported that being proactive is an effective strategy for organizations experiencing a crisis. The combination with a positive pre-crisis reputation and product crisis softened consumers’ judgement
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/67535
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